Guiding Light of The Month

THERE is a great difference between being in the midst of active work, of external action, while keeping one’s thought constantly fixed on Thee, and entering into that perfect union with Thee which leads to what I have called “absolute Consciousness, true Omniscience, Knowledge”. - The Mother

It was all her life, became her whole earth and heaven.


'Fix fate: Free will' is the seeming paradox at the heart of existence. Man has freedom of choice, but once the choice has been made, he cannot control the consequences. As we sow, so shall we reap. Is even the act of choice no real choice at all but an item of unalterable predestination? Is, then, 'free will' itself a delusion?
                                               
Man's hopes and longings build the journeying wheels
That bear the body of his destiny
And lead his blind will towards an unknown goal.
His fate within him shapes his acts and rules;
Its face and form already are born in him,
Its parentage is in his secret soul:...
Nature and Fate compel his free-will's choice.

Free will is a misnomer, then; yet this too is not the whole truth about the matter. The wages of sin, we know, is death; but Grace has limitless powers. By definition the Almighty is all-mighty; nothing is impossible for him. From the human end things may seem unalterable; but from the divine end? And where exactly do we draw the line that separates the human from the divine? Man ordinarily is a slave of circumstance, a pitiable victim of fate, a creature subject to the curbs of death, desire and incapacity. But humanity can range from the level of the near-inconscient to the dizzy heights of the superconscient—from the beast to the god. Thus it appears that to the adamantine law of fate there can be exceptions:

       But greater spirits this balance can reverse
       And make the soul the artist of its fate.

Savitri's resolution to keep faith with Satyavan in defiance of Sage Narad's premonitory forecast of the coming events is no mere exercise in willfulness but rather the measure of her own strength which, if put to the supreme test, may very well bend "the long cosmic curve" itself. But this consciousness of the indwelling power doesn't blot out the human Savitri, the creature of trembling sensibility, who has made a willing and total surrender of herself to Satyavan.

      Leaving her parental home a second time, Savitri speeds back to rejoin Satyavan. It is a sharp fundamental passage from the palace with its "tinged mosaic of the crystal floors" to the bare hermitage in the bosom of the forest. But affection and infinite consideration await her here, and so she commences in the wild woods her married life with Satyavan. This solitude strikes her for a time as the sweetest society:

      There was a chanting in the casual wind,
      There was a glory in the least sunbeam;
      Night was a chrysoprase on velvet cloth,
      A nestling darkness or a moonlit deep;
      Day was a purple pageant and a hymn,
      A wave of the laughter of light from morn to eve.

Can love with its divine accent and 'sex' with its human base ever fuse into the 'holy' wedded state? Before their 'fall', did Adam and Eve experience what C.S. Lewis has called 'paradisal sexuality'? John Keats could not imagine any mingling of 'goatish winnyish lustful love with the abstract adoration of the deity'. But nothing is impossible to the "greater spirits" who are called into being to enact the higher synthesis. The first realisations of the wedded life of Savitri and Satyavan are of this order:
                                                           

      A fusing of the joys of earth and heaven,
      A tremulous blaze of nuptial rapture passed,
      A rushing of two spirits to be one,
      A burning of two bodies in one flame…

The woman at no time is less than woman merely because she is also potentially divine.

       It is doubtless an intolerable situation for Savitri. She alone has the foreknowledge which Narad has communicated to her; Satyavan, his revered parents, the other inmates of the hermitage, all are spared the knowledge that continually lacerates her. She cannot share her pain, she musn't even give the remotest hint of it. Can she at least try to forget? She tries desperately, she tries to lose herself in love's divine frenzy:

Vainly she fled into abysms of bliss
From her pursuing foresight of the end.
The more she plunged into love that anguish grew;
Her deepest grief from sweetest gulfs arose.
Remembrance was a poignant pang, she felt
Each day a golden leaf torn cruelly out
From her too slender book of love and joy.

Vain is her attempt—vain are all her attempts—to escape the pain in her heart that is like her own inseparable shadow. Her life with Satyavan, although it is the very image of love's complete fulfilment, is for her now more and more a mask. Nor love's maddening excesses nor the minutiae of an ardent housewife's round of duties are an effective cure for the wound in her heart that she cannot bare to others, not even to her soul's mate, dear Satyavan. She brings more and more concentration into her routine movements, achieving thereby,
                                                                                               
A oneness with earth's glowing robe of light,
A lifting up of common acts by love.

From her actions flow peace and joy to others, and to her too, because others are happy; yet the void within remains, the space of the allotted year contracts, the tread of remorseless Time approaches. In a new frenzy of alarm she rushes to Satyavan's arms again:

      Intolerant of the poverty of Time
      Her passion catching at the fugitive hours
      Willed the expense of centuries in one day
      Of prodigal love and the surf of ecstasy;

Has Satyavan no hint of this hell that is hidden in her heart? Doesn't love give him a sixth window of sense to see the spectre she fain would hide? She will not tell him, she cannot tell him, yet he knows, however obscurely, that something, somewhere, somehow is wrong:

      Satyavan sometimes half understood,
      Or felt at least with the uncertain answer
      Of our thought-blinded hearts the unuttered need,
      The unplumbed abyss of her deep passionate want.

But the barrier of reticence remains. For his part, he readily, eagerly, gives her as much of his time as he can—still rushing to her from the forest after hewing wood or from attendance on his sightless father.
                                   
      Retired to the still secrecy of her heart, Savitri ponders whether, when the trial is upon her at last, she must not immolate herself and follow Satyavan "into the sweet or terrible Beyond". What would happen, then, to "those sad parents", Satyavan's mother and blind father? Who will "help the empty remnant of their day"? Nay more: the burden of the whole world's pain presses on Savitri, for in her own pain she recognises the world's as well. She is now like,

      .. .a dumb priest with hidden gods
      Unappeased by the wordless offering of her days,
      Lifting to them her sorrow like frankincense,
      Her life the altar, herself the sacrifice.

The sole year of permitted bliss now draws to a close. Like a jungle crouching in silence, Savitri waits in sombre expectancy.

 (An excerpt from “Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri – A study of the cosmic epic”, Dr. Premanandakumar, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)

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